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Interior designer and 20th century design expert, Emma de Crespigny, brings a new collection of vintage investment furniture to the Bo-Kaap. She’s expanded her repertoire to include reproductions of selected modernist classics and a new line of contemporary lighting and accessories with a retro feel.

How did your business start?

When I returned to Cape Town, after 30 years in New York, I decided it was time to start my own business. I started my business in part of my house in Woodstock to keep costs low. I eventually outgrew the space.

Why did you choose this area to set up shop?

I wanted town presence and wanted to be close to the buzz on Bree Street. The location is important in my business and the proximity to other art institutions is also helpful.

How did you find your premises?

I worked with an agent and when I first saw the large semi-industrial, warehouse-like space, I knew it was perfect for my style.

Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?

The large open space helps make the most of the furniture here. Since I moved in, I have put up a couple of walls to create vignettes that separate the designs into room settings. This helps potential clients visualise my style in their homes.

Who are your neighbours?the new modernist gallery_2

I am fortunate to be situated at 142 Buitengracht Street in the creative cluster known as the Urban Hub, at the foot of the Bo-Kaap. My neighbours include art and design galleries, namely Studio Dylan Thomaz, Eclectica Design & Art, Gallery Momo and renowned textile store, Mungo Studio.

What are the shop rental / sales prices like in this area?

I think for the amount of space I occupy the price is reasonable. It is far more affordable for a new business than Bree Street, which is also in close proximity.

What is your shop footprint?

I get a lot of tourists who are visiting Bo-Kaap as well as locals living or working in the immediate area. Otherwise, I am more of a destination venue for interior designers and architects as well as mid-century design enthusiasts.

Do you have any expansion plans?

I have already expanded by joining the space next-door to mine. I have partnered with an art dealer from Johannesburg to create an art gallery featuring emerging African artists to complement the furniture.

Do you operate online as well?

My website allows buyers to purchase online and expands my client base. I also have a steady web presence on various social media platforms.

What’s your most popular item?

The bestsellers to date have been the mid-century sofas that I make locally. I also make other designs including lighting and furniture inspired by mid-century antecedents.

The New Modernist

082 414 0317


Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied


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